Surprise Box


  • Shoebox with a lid or other small cardboard box
  • Tape
  • Small uniquely shaped or textured objects (e.g., plastic letters, small animals, utensils, crayon, hair scrunchie, barrette)

Prep Time:

  • 10 minutes

Recipe for Fun!

Cut a hole in a cardboard box large enough to allow a child to easily reach inside and retrieve objects. The hole can be on the top or side of the box. Make sure the edges are smooth, so children don’t get scraped or cut. Place objects inside. Have children take turns reaching inside the box and identifying objects by touch. Alternately say an object and have the child find it by feel.


  • Helps children organize the sensory input and make sense of it. The box can have a finite number of objects to help children gradually manage more input. This has a direct effect on their ability to focus and attend to one stimulus when subjected to multiple sensory stimuli.
  • Descriptive language development. Basic concepts such as location (in/out) and number (more/less) can be exemplified during play. This helps build pre-reading and early math skills and increases vocabulary by helping kids describe what they’re feeling.


  • For children who have attention difficulties, lessen the number of objects you place in the box, so they only have a couple to feel and identify. Gradually increase the number as attention span and frustration levels permit.
  • For children who are working on language,
    • Discuss the attributes of the objects (colors, size, shape)
    • Tell a story using the objects that have been retrieved from the box
    • Ask questions (e.g., what shape is it, what color is it, how does it feel)


  • Matching objects – Start with collecting duplicates of each object (e.g., two pencils two erasers, Qtip, buttons). Place one of each pair in the box. Then, point to an object and have the child reach in and find its match by feel.